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Ultra-high-resolution 3D imaging of atherosclerosis in mice with synchrotron differential phase contrast: a proof of concept study.
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The goal of this study was to investigate the performance of 3D synchrotron differential phase contrast (DPC) imaging for the visualization of both macroscopic and microscopic aspects of atherosclerosis in the mouse vasculature ex vivo. The hearts and aortas of 2 atherosclerotic and 2 wild-type control mice were scanned with DPC imaging with an isotropic resolution of 15 μm. The coronary artery vessel walls were segmented in the DPC datasets to assess their thickness, and histological staining was performed at the level of atherosclerotic plaques. The DPC imaging allowed for the visualization of complex structures such as the coronary arteries and their branches, the thin fibrous cap of atherosclerotic plaques as well as the chordae tendineae. The coronary vessel wall thickness ranged from 37.4 ± 5.6 μm in proximal coronary arteries to 13.6 ± 3.3 μm in distal branches. No consistent differences in coronary vessel wall thickness were detected between the wild-type and atherosclerotic hearts in this proof-of-concept study, although the standard deviation in the atherosclerotic mice was higher in most segments, consistent with the observation of occasional focal vessel wall thickening. Overall, DPC imaging of the cardiovascular system of the mice allowed for a simultaneous detailed 3D morphological assessment of both large structures and microscopic details.
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